Recent mesothelioma figures released by different Health & Safety groups on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) once again point to an upward trend in both mortality rates and asbestosis claim numbers, although estimates differ.

One study showed that the total number of observed, male mesothelioma deaths from 1968 to 2007 was 32,129, whilst the total number of male deaths is expected to increase in the period from 2008-2050 to around 58,863.

However, the most recent 2009 projection of UK mesothelioma mortality indicates that with an increase to 1,705 deaths recorded in 2006, the forecast for male mortality will keep rising to peak at around 2,040 deaths in the year 2016, followed by a rapid decline. It is also now estimated that around 91,000 deaths are predicted to occur by 2050 with around 61,000 of these occurring from 2007 onwards.

Men aged 65 and over have always been recorded as being the highest for cases of mesothelioma in the UK and over the last 15 years, incidence among men who are aged 55 upwards, has also increased. The long latency periods for asbestosis, which can last for up to 50 years, can mean that asbestosis symptoms may not reveal themselves until much later in life.

Thus, workers who were first exposed to asbestos in industries such as shipbuilding, the railways, construction, heating, ventilating and electrical before the late 1970s and 80s when asbestos was finally banned from use, are still unfortunately falling victim to the deadly disease.

Further evidence of the continued rise in asbestos-related cases shows up in an update on research previously carried out as recently as 2004. The substantial increase in making a mesothelioma claim to UK insurers is not only because of rising numbers, but also as a result of more people who are diagnosed with the disease bringing personal injury, asbestos compensation cases.

Consequently, the study revealed that asbestos-related lung cancer claims have also been higher than previously expected, with the number of insurance claims increasing faster than the level of mesothelioma deaths in recent years.

It is estimated that the future total UK insurance market cost of all UK asbestos-related claims could reach nearly triple the 2004 figure of £4.7bn to be around £11bn.